Wednesday - Cabo San Lucas
Normally when I stop writing on vacation it is either because a) we're having too much fun or b) I'm miserable and don't want to talk about it. Disneyland last year was the latter, fortunately this trip is the former. By the end of the day, I'm too wiped to think creatively and I think, "I'll just write extra tomorrow." Which of course doesn't happen tomorrow either, and thus the snowball rolls. I'm going to try to recap the highlights of the last three days.
Ryan, my dad, and the boys went on an Extreme Canopy Tour, which is kind of a misnomer. A canopy tour is a zipline experience that goes through the jungle treetops (i.e., the canopy.) So it was a little surprising when the "canopy tour" took place in the desert with nary a tree to be found. Plenty of cliffs, though, and some of the ziplines were 1/4 mile long. They loved it. The company they used was Costa Azul and I booked it with www.cabosanlucastours.net, who gave us a much better deal than going through the cruise ship. While the boys were touring the non-existent canopy, my mom and I took Darcey and walked around Cabo. It was basically streets of souvenir shops that sold variations of the same things, over and over again. The street vendors were aggressive but not overly so. I don't like buying things from vendors like this - I feel like they're looking at me like I'm a sucker and there's pretty much no way I can change their opinion of me. I'm the worst barterer ever. Just tell me how much the dang trinket costs and I'll pay it - don't turn my shopping experience into embarrassing proof of my gringo-ness.
My dad won another ship in Super Duper Trivia. I started thinking that my cause was hopeless and I'd be leaving the cruise empty handed. But that was okay - it was mostly fun just answering the questions; I didn't have to win to have fun. (Yeah, that's what all losers tell themselves.)
We went back to the restaurant for dinner that night and our waiter Welly looked genuinely hurt when he asked where we had been for the last two nights. I never understood the idea that people would form relationships with their waiter on a cruise...until we met Welly. He's from the Philippines, he works for six months on the ship and then gets two months off at home. He's got a 1 year old son so he's super attentive to my kids. He cuts Darcey's dinner into bite size pieces at the table for her. At Friday's dinner he spent ten minutes at least making an origami Optimus Prime out of a children's menu for Zack. He remembers where the kids sat once and the kids menus are always waiting on those seats when we get there. He's friendly and you get the feeling that he would do anything to make sure you're happy with your dinner. And he doesn't do it in a fake or condescending way, like he's only doing it to get a good tip. Other than the second Elegant Night on Friday, I think it was the unspoken family decision that we wouldn't miss a dinner in the restaurant again. We wouldn't want to disappoint Welly.
Speaking of food, here's my opinion of the food: it's pretty good. Quantity is of course the food's best selling point - there's the restaurant that's open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, then there's the buffet restaurant that's open from early in the morning until sometime at night. Pizza and ice cream are available 24 hours a day. There's a wide variety of food to choose from - regular buffet, deli, Indian, sushi, and more. There's plenty of options to please the 3300+ cruisers who eat every day. The only bad thing about the food is that because it has to please so many people, they make the food a little on the bland side. No strong flavors - no garlic, few onions, even the french fries can stand a little extra salt. The restaurant food is (I think) better than the buffet food on the Lido deck, but the barbeque sauce I had on the ribs had little more flavor than ketchup, and that's just a shame. The desserts are plentiful and don't suffer from the same problems as the other food - everyone raves (and rightly so) about the chocolate melting cake, but I'm not a huge chocolate fan so my favorite dessert was the bread pudding. Mmmm, it was delicious. The worst part of traveling with kids is my reliance on fast food and familiar places - by the time I get home, I never want to eat another burger again, ever. But this trip isn't like that at all. Yeah, Zack's had pizza for approximately 14 meals this week, but that's okay, because I've had filet mignon (fantastic!) and pasta and prime rib and other wonderful foods that were definitely not McDonalds.
Thursday, Puerto Vallarta
On Thursday we hit Puerto Vallarta. I booked us on a Pirate Ship Adventure excursion where we get off our ship (which Darcey calls the "airplane" ship from the giant wings sprouting on top of it) and got on a pirate ship where swashbuckling mateys entertained us as we sailed to a private island. They served breakfast and lunch, which was mediocre at best, but the entertainment was a lot of fun. Brad was chosen to be in the "pirate show" and the family won a Zack-sized t-shirt for answering trivia questions. What is it about cruising and trivia? My parents insist that they've never been on a cruise that has this many trivia contests (sometimes 6 in a day) but whatever the case is, I like it. The t-shirt is going into the pile of Trivia Loot that we will be photographing at the end of the cruise.
The private beach was, for me, the best part of the day. The water was calm and clear. The boys got boogie boards and played around in the waves and Brad went snorkeling and maybe kayaking too, I can't remember. Ryan played in the beach volleyball game and Zack went on a hunt for buried treasure. I sat in the sand and watched Darcey and Zack digging holes and building sand castles and read my book. My only complaint was that our time on the beach was too short. I could have stayed there all day.
Naturally, in those two hours or so on the beach, the sun found all of the places that the sunscreen didn't quite make it, so I got burned on my scalp and around the edge of my swimsuit top. I even reapplied sunscreen and I still got burned. I don't think I'll ever understand people who can lay out for an entire vacation and come home brown instead of red. Must be something in the genes.
After we got back, there was just enough time for one trivia game before dinner in the restaurant. The theme was Pop Culture and I finally hit my stride on this one. Here are some of the questions (or what I remember of them):
Who invented the term "security blanket"?
What Revlon spokesmodel claimed she was fired because she was too old?
What activity does "five finger discount" refer to?
How much would you get for coming in second place in a beauty contest in the game Monopoly?
What celebrity got her start as a dancer on In Living Color?
How many people does McDonalds serve in one day - 40 thousand, 400 thousand, or 400 million?
What is the first of the seven dwarves, in alphabetical order?
What talk show host has a Top Ten list?
Who is the father of Britney Spears' children?
What tv show was responsible for Ashton Kutcher's rise to fame?
What tv show was the first to pay its actors $1 million per episode?
Who was the first Nike employee of Thai descent to make more than 40 cents an hour?
What vegetable drink claims it is "99.9% Clam-free"?
There were 20 questions total and I ended up with 14 right. The Royal Flush Casino Lounge was unusually packed for this trivia round, so we ended up at a table at the very far end of the room. I had to crane my head towards the stage and sometimes repeat the questions to the rest of the family so we could all hear. Joe, the cruise-guy-in-charge-of-trivia, said "Who has more than ten right?" and a handful of people had our hands raised, but nobody had more than 15 right. So he asked the people near him how many they had right, and the highest number was 11. Which of course led to me running down the aisle waving my paper over my head and announcing loudly, "I have 14! I have 14!" Joe looked at me like he'd never seen me before (which is nuts, because we were basically stalking him for an entire week) and I pointed that I was sitting waaaaay down there. The two people that tied at 11 were denied their ship-on-a-stick glory and Joe handed me my coveted trophy. I finally won!! I had looked at that trophy as my family members paraded them past me and I thought it'd be pretty cool to have one - once I got it, it was actually even better than I thought. I wanted to get a strap for it and hang it around my neck so everyone could see it, like an even more impressive medallion. Cruise ship bling. I might be the most shallow and pitiful person you've ever met, but winning that trophy really made me happy. I took it with us to dinner and sat it next to my plate and could have stared at it all day.
More stuff probably happened that night, but I don't remember any of it. Can you blame me?